In order for your website to rank in the top five results in Google for a highly competitive search takes a large amount of time, effort and often a lot of money. But all the traffic you’ll get when you do will make it all worth it in the end. Well, not necessarily.
Getting into the top 5 results on Google for a popular search term won’t always be enough to actually get visitors to your site.
That’s because for highly competitive queries your audience isn’t actually “searching” for a product or service. They’re browsing.
In smaller, more granular searches (i.e. “second hand bike shop in Ealing”), your potential customer is on the hunt for a service that actually meets their needs. They haven’t found the service they need. They’re not even sure it’s “a thing” yet.
The supply of well ranking appropriate solutions may even be so limited that they have to spend some time trying out alternative phrases (second hand cycle store ealing, used bicycles Ealing) before they eventually do find a suitable solution.
For low volume searches, just by being visible the website that does rank well for that search query is highly likely to close deals.
Sure, these will be fewer conversions than if the site was highly visible for the broader query: “second hand bikes London”, but in the short run it’s a much more attainable goal and for a local small business this may be precisely what’s required.
In high volume, highly competitive search on the other hand, the challenge is an entirely different one.
Here the potential customer is no longer at a loss for options. In fact, it’s the opposite. They’re looking at ten strong contenders in the results pages, each a potential option.
Now your audience isn’t actually searching, they’re shopping. Simply ranking well is not enough to get those browsers to choose you.
So how do you attract clicks from high volume search?
You keep the buying cycle in mind.
Not everyone searching for your service or product will be ready to buy. Many will first want to be persuaded that your product is the best and that your brand is reliable above all others.
Your potential customer can be in any one of the three stages of buying: awareness, research or purchase.
Create something of value for each of those stages and you’ll have a much better rapport with your potential customer.
Be clear about the perks of your service.
To encourage a researching customer to click on your result after a Google search, pack as much persuasive detail into your meta data as possible (we’re talking Title Tags and Meta Descriptions here).
There won’t be space in the search results to go into the full list of specs that distinguish your service or product, so you’ll want to come up with a list of summary words that encapsulates your service.
Then use those throughout the meta data on your key services pages so they are visible in the search results.
These may be:
- fully equipped
To keep your visitors’ trust, ensure you meet the expectation you’ve created with your search entry by having a really detailed spec list on the destination page ready for them when they do click through. This page should specify clearly why you’re professional, centrally located… whatever it is you sold yourself as.
If you don’t, they’ll bounce right out and your page is unlikely to maintain that top position.
Be detailed, be specific but also be persuasive and personable. If your visitor is not in the purchasing stage, you’ll want them to remember you when they eventually are. Being competent and efficient is essential but it’s not memorable. Add a bit of personality and your product or service will be a lot stickier.
Offer advice, don’t just sell.
With limited space in the search engine results page, your key services or product pages will have to stay focused on doing the selling.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take up more space in search results with other pages – specifically, pages designed to provide answers.
Not only will this broaden your reach, it will also make your product or service look a lot more human.
Providing useful guides to help potential customers make a decision (even if that means not choosing you) can give you a major advantage over your competition. This is especially relevant to potential customers in the awareness and earlier stages of research.
Argos have done this well with a TV Buying guide that has secured then a top spot in the highly competitive query “flat screen TV” for years.
Companies who are generous with their advice build trust and respect. Being stingy with expertise on the other hand, creates the impression that your insight is a finite resource. Nobody feels safe with a company like that.
Be visible elsewhere.
A browsing customer (as opposed to one who is genuinely searching) rarely commits to the first suitable option they find.
They need to warm to the decision first, mull it over, try it on for size. Having prior experience with your brand or service, even if this is just having seen you in a sidebar advert or on social media, can often be the necessary catalyst to action.
This makes is essential that organic search is not your only marketing strategy.
Depending on your resources, explore both offline marketing (print, display, radio or TV advertising) and other forms of paid and unpaid online marketing (pay per click, social media).
Don’t panic about social media presence; you won’t have to be on all social channels all the time. Choose the two that suit your brand best, combining organic content with a paid presence.
Diversifying like this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Particularly image-heavy advertising (think Facebook ads or Google’s Display Network) will improve brand recognition, and can be just the nudge your potential customers need to select your page from their next search results.